A temporary scheme enabling patients in Ireland easier access to their prescribed medical cannabis treatments has been made permanent.
In Ireland, specialist medical consultants can prescribe medical cannabis for patients with certain conditions assuming an appropriate application is submitted to the Department of Health and accepted. The country’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme kicked off in 2019 on a pilot basis for five years.
Currently, only three medications can be used – High CBD Oil Drops from Aurora, CannEpil from MGC Pharmaceuticals and THC10:CBD10 from Tilray. But it hasn’t been a case of popping down to the local pharmacy to pick up the medicines. The majority of patients of licenced clinicians obtain their prescribed products from Transvaal Pharmacy in the Hague in the Netherlands.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these patients or family members had to travel to the Netherlands to collect their medical cannabis prescription due to a ban in the Netherlands on commercial exports of cannabis oils. This created a great deal of stress for patients and their families, along with the significant added financial strain associated with making the trips.
A temporary delivery service from the Netherlands was established in April 2020 for the filling of individual prescriptions due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. It’s obviously worked out pretty well, and yesterday Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced this would be ongoing.
“I am so pleased that these problems will now be a thing of the past for them,” said Minister Donnelly. “There will no longer be a need for them to travel abroad in order to collect their prescribed cannabis products. Instead, they can focus on their health and wellbeing. The welfare of patients and their families comes first and I am happy to reassure them that they will no longer have to personally source their prescriptions.”
Currently, medical cannabis products can be prescribed to patients who have one of the following conditions:
- Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy.
… but only where the patient has failed to respond to conventional treatments. The prescribing medical consultant must have specialist training in the specified medical condition cannabis is being prescribed for.
Further information on Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Program (MCAP) can be found here.